The Night Rainbow

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Esbensen?s poem in celebration of the northern lights incorporates images from the aurora borealis legends of many ancient cultures, including white geese, dancers, whales, and battles. Luminescent illustrations in a subdued palette attempt to interpret the evocative descriptions. Notes about the legends as well as a scientific explanation of the northern lights are included.

A poem based on ancient legends about the northern lights from people who associated the ...

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Overview

Esbensen’s poem in celebration of the northern lights incorporates images from the aurora borealis legends of many ancient cultures, including white geese, dancers, whales, and battles. Luminescent illustrations in a subdued palette attempt to interpret the evocative descriptions. Notes about the legends as well as a scientific explanation of the northern lights are included.

A poem based on ancient legends about the northern lights from people who associated the fiery illuminations with animals, ghosts, dancers, and raging battles.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its shimmering paintings and elegant metaphors about the northern lights, this unusual book from the team behind The Star Maiden proves confusing. The late Esbensen's long poem combines exquisite descriptions of the aurora borealis with references to the legends of various northern peoples in such a complex, fragmentary way that her narrative does not achieve unity, leaving many passages begging for explication. The book does include a note explaining why Esbensen wrote the poem, and four pages of back matter (a list of forms the aurora takes, an essay about its legends and scientific background). However, many sequences in the poem either lack transitions or require prior knowledge for understanding. For example, the poet dreams of Inuit children who shout (in an allusion explained only in an appended essay), "We call out in our dreams,/ Kick the ball of light,/ Ancestors of Ancestors! Kick/ the whirling walrus head." Davie's pastel and gouache illustrations, on the other hand, impart a sense of the "wonderment" Esbensen describes, combining skyscapes with images from the legends which inspired them. White light appears to etch the shape of geese from old Norse tales, and "the breath of ghostly/ Hungarian horses" materializes in Davie's art like frost on a windowpane--but even these splendid illustrations do not clarify the muddled text. Ages 5-9. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Drawing on the legends of the aurora borealis created by people of many northern lands, Esbensen's poetry evokes the mystery and wonder of the northern lights--"Luminous in the dark sky-water,/great whales/blow fountains of light." Davie's pastel and gouache illustrations capture both the visible light and the imagined whales, horses, and warriors of the various legends. Both words and pictures anchor the fanciful in the familiar details of home--beginning with the rows of corn rustling in the field, and ending with the dog asleep on the step as the lights soar over the silo. The text is framed with an author's note at the beginning, and notes at the end about the legends and about the aurora's forms and scientific explanations. There is also a list of sources for additional information. This is a more sophisticated book, and contains more information about the legends and the science of the aurora than Harriet Peck Taylor's Ulaq and the Northern Lights (1998), but it would be interesting to use both books together, especially with younger children. 2000, Orchard Books, Ages 5 to 10, $16.95. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson
Nati
This is a beautiful book, both in concept and in execution. The subject is inspired: a tracing of the legends associated withone of Nature's most awe-inspiring displays, the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights, as those legends appear through history and through cultures as diverse as Native North American, Scandanavian, Inuit, Russian, Scots, and Hungarian. Appropriately, the text is poetic and well-tuned to the shimmering beauty of the Aurora itself and to the legends and tales it has inspired. The illustrations are equally evocotive...Children and adults alike will respond not only to the poetic beauty of the book's images and tales, but also to the resonances of cultural unity in diversity that the book creates.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531332443
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.06 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.32 (d)

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